Cleaners (Oh YEAH!)
Summer Daycare for 4 Kids (Kill me NOW.)
A Few New Suits (Yeah!)
Dry Cleaning Bills (Wasted spending to me.)
Lawn care, garage floor repair, garage paint job, cement stamping of side patio and front walkway, new candles for back patio, garden paraphernalia and lots of vegetables, new day planner, new work bag, sharp raincoat for spring, sports camp fees for soccer and basketball, window treatments for bedroom, summer clothes for kids, plane tickets for trip in August....
Seriously, I could go on. And then it hit me. The ability to create and run a family "budget" has never been more important than now. A budget is something we throw around "loosely" here, but heck, every 15th and 30th of the month, my husband and I sit down and go through what amount is coming in, and what amount must go out.
We have subject lines for everything we can think of. Not a regular excel spreadsheet, and no we don't use any of those software programs - let's just call it a third class system, but at least we've got one. AND, we do it together most of the time. We sit down with pen and paper, and rattle off the 15-20 average line items of expenses for each month instantaneously. And then it becomes a messy but functional working document for the next 2.5 weeks.
And what I realized is that we are adding a new line item next month as I'm re-employed full-time.
It's going to be called: "S&M".
[OK, all you with your mind in the gutter, S&M stands for Sue & Mark.]
How do such a large number of us become so pre-occupied with family, work, careers, keeping up with the Jones, driving the right car, making sure our kids have the right labels, and carrying the latest model blackberry phone while we allow ourselves to totally disengage from one another?
And then again, maybe a good number of us actually don't fall to the above pressures of keeping up with the Jones. Some of us drive plain cars, some of us don't have blackberry phones. Many of our kids live in Target or Old Navy clothing and some of us might even call our own favorite "staple of an outfit" a faded pair of favorite no-name jeans, with a tank top and flip flops.
But still, spending occurs, and priorities are set. In every household, and in every relationship.
With my upcoming change in employment status, we've been re-evaluating our 529k contributions, our personal savings contributions, our ING savings contributions, our 401k contributions, our daycare spending budget and hell yes, even "Target" has its own darn line item. But if we can suddenly adjust and re-balance our investments and spending, we can surely PLAN and EXECUTE an "S&M" spending category.
It's the perfect time.
Maybe it's just $20 a week. Maybe it's $500. To me, paying a babysitter to come over for 2 hours for $20 would let my husband and I go for a walk or head to the gym.
Maybe we don't actually use a sitter for the next few weeks, and instead begin to bond in just the planning of a future weekend trip we agree to take together after a few months of savings? We can e-mail each other about ideas and hotels... we can text one another about how we can't wait to get away for a weekend... We can bribe our family members to entertain our children for 24 hours.
This is my priority in two weeks. I'm budgeting "S&M". The patio can wait. I can use last year's patio candles.
And who the heck needs a spring coat? That's what umbrellas are for.
So when might your perfect time be? Pick a day of the week. Pick a date. Pick a holiday. Pick an event. Just make sure you execute it and enjoy.
And then call me if you need a babysitter.